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Super Bowl LIV betting recap: Chiefs comeback, under were enormous wins for sportsbooks

Super Bowl Sunday didn’t start well for the people behind the counter at the MGM sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

When Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scored the first touchdown of Super Bowl LIV, that was a great outcome for bettors. Mahomes opened as 21-to-1 to be the first player to score. The first-to-score prop is annually the most popular prop bet for the Super Bowl, and bettors usually take the quarterbacks.

It was a loss in the middle six figures for MGM, according to Jeff Stoneback, director of trading operations for MGM Resorts International.

“We’re down over a quarter million right away and I was like, this isn’t a good start,” Stoneback said.

But the house always wins, especially on Super Bowls. Some key outcomes in Super Bowl LIV made it a huge day for sportsbooks in Nevada.

Two big bettors helped bottom line

While the early money for Super Bowl LIV came in on the Chiefs, 49ers money started pouring in on Wednesday, Stoneback said. With a $1 million bet from “Mattress Mack” and another bettor who ended up with $2.1 million on combinations of the 49ers and overs, the sportsbooks needed the Chiefs and the under. The public mostly bet the over on the total as well.

The 31-20 Chiefs win was outstanding for the books.

“We can’t complain,” Stoneback said. “We got Kansas City and the under, and that was the best case for us.”

When the Chiefs came back to win and the game stayed under, it was a banner day for MGM and sportsbooks all around Nevada. The Nevada Gaming Control Board said the hold for the Super Bowl for all casinos was 12.1 percent, a huge win. Stoneback said it was MGM’s best win percentage since at least 2008. He couldn’t go back further than that, so he thought it could be the best Super Bowl the sportsbook has ever had.

Officially, $154,679,241 was bet on the Super Bowl — up from last year but a little bit short of the 2018 record of $158.6 million — and the overall win for Nevada casinos was $18,774,148. For Nevada as a whole, it was the biggest win since a $19.7 million profit on the Seahawks vs. Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

A good amount of the profit for MGM came from the two bettors. “Mattress Mack,” the Houston-based owner of Gallery Furniture, lost his third straight $1 million bet against the Chiefs in the playoffs. And the other bettor — who was up a couple million the previous month from bowl game and NFL playoff wins — lost $2.1 million on the 49ers and over for the game, the first half over and a second half bet on the 49ers. That’s a rough afternoon.

There were nervous moments, especially on the under. Damien Williams scored a late touchdown that left the door open for over bettors to win. The over/under went between 51 and 55 points in the two weeks before the Super Bowl, so anything between those numbers would have been terrible for MGM. When the 49ers had the ball late in the game, down 11 points, the worst-case scenario was in play.

“We were worried about, great, they’re going to get to like the 30 and kick a field goal, then try for the onside kick,” Stoneback said. “Fortunately that didn’t happen but we were sweating at the end.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes won Super Bowl LIV MVP. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Bettors already taking Super Bowl LV futures

Even the props went well for MGM. Mahomes scoring first was a setback, but Mahomes winning Super Bowl MVP was a big win because he was the clear favorite. None of the longshots came in. A defensive player like Nick Bosa, Kwon Alexander or Richard Sherman would have been bad for MGM, Stoneback said. According to Stoneback, Mahomes winning MVP was such a win for the sportsbook it made up for the loss on the first-to-score prop.

The 2019-20 season wasn’t even finished when MGM opened its odds on next season’s Super Bowl. Stoneback said four teams got the most bets to win Super Bowl LV: The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders.

The Cowboys are always a public team. People generally bet on the team that wins the Super Bowl to win again, so that was no surprise. The Raiders always get a lot of Super Bowl bets too, and will get more with them moving to Las Vegas. Then there was Seattle.

“That one surprised me,” Stoneback said.

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